BlackBerry Bold 9900 Review
The BlackBerry Bold 9900 was unveiled by RIM executives here in the Philippines last September with an SRP of Php31,690. We’ve been using a demo unit for the last week and we’ve had enough time with RIM’s latest flagship product to write a fair and comprehensive review for everyone here at Unbox.
If you don’t have time to read the full review I made a quick summary below.
- The best keypad I’ve ever typed on.
- Liquid Technology and the processor makes the over-all experience smoother, faster, and better
- Best browsing experience among all BlackBerry smartphones
- Looks premium and classy
- Combination of touchscreen and QWERTY keypad is a useful and fun experience
- Near Field Communications (NFC) Technology paves the way for innovative apps and features
- Camera isn’t good, especially during low light conditions.
- Lack of apps; not for gaming
- No video calling due to no front camera
The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is the best BlackBerry smartphone ever shipped. If you’re looking for a professional phone that’s mainly for communication (BBM, calls, texts, e-mails) and browsing every now and then, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 is right up your alley. BlackBerry fans will simply adore this phone.
With that let’s move on to the full review.
The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is the thinnest (10.55mm) and lightest (4.59oz) BlackBerry smartphone ever shipped. It’s a bit wider though compared to the BlackBerry 9700 and 9780. The width reminds me more of the BlackBerry Bold 9000 which means you have a bigger screen and QWERTY keypad. Don’t think though that the Bold 9900 is the same 9000 body with better specs. The old 9000 had fake (plastic) chrome as the exterior frame. This chipped away over time and made your BlackBerry look like crap. The 9900’s frame is is actually metal which gives it longevity and more elegance.
The back of the BlackBerry Bold 9900 is also very different from previous models. It has a glossy back plate which is a magnet for smudges but it looks very stylish when it’s clean. You open the battery via this back panel as well. At the top you’ll find the lock/unlock button. To the left side is the 3.5mm audio jack followed by the micro-USB charger. The volume controls are at the right side.
What makes the BlackBerry Bold 9900 different also is the combination of the QWERTY keypad with the touchscreen. By the way, I used to have the BlackBerry Bold 9000, then the 9700, and the 9780. The BlackBerry Bold 9900’s keypad is by far the best ergonomic typing experience for me. The 2.8″ display is also pleasing to the eyes with 287 pixels per inch. I usually use the touchscreen when I’m scrolling up and down in different apps like Twitter, Facebook, and SMS messages. I then switch to the trackpad and the keypad when I need to type stuff up.
In short the BlackBerry Bold 9900 offers a much better over-all BlackBerry experience.
Performance & Software (BB OS7)
Thanks to the 1.2GHz processor and 768MB RAM almost all of the apps run smoothly on the BlackBerry Bold 9900. You won’t have any problem switching in and out of different applications. In the last week I used e-mail, BBM, SMS, calls, Twitter, Facebook, played music, watched a few videos, and browsing. The phone never bogged down or crashed. That’s a good thing because the BlackBerry Bold 9000 and 9700 were both notorious for just hanging and you have to do the dreaded battery reset.
The social networking applications that come with the phone are also pretty good. I’m just a bit “bitin” with the screen especially when I’m on Facebook. I keep on scrolling on and on because the total screen real estate just isn’t long enough for the best possible experience.
How about browsing? This is where the Bold 9900 leaves the previous models behind. Probably because of the combination of the powerful CPU, RAM, and Liquid Graphics technology, browsing is a much better experience. Scrolling up and down websites is smoother and snappier. I couldn’t stand browsing with my previous BlackBerry phones (even the Torch 9800) but I was happy with the Bold 9900.
One of the reasons why I kept a BlackBerry phone with me even though I owned an iPhone 4 is that the previous 9780 had great battery life. I was hoping that the Bold 9900 would have the same juice in it but that’s not the case. It can still get you through the day but it’s definitely not as good as the older models. I usually start my day with 100% and leave the house at 8:30AM. I leave notifications on for social networking apps, e-mail, and do a lot of texting/BBM. In the afternoon I usually make a couple of calls and browsing. When I leave the office later in the evening the battery is around 30-40%. Still good compared to high-end Android smartphones or the iPhone 4 though.
I’m pretty disappointed with the camera though of the BlackBerry Bold 9900. Yes, it’s 5MP (2592×1944) and it has LED flash but it has no auto-focus. The lens also isn’t too good for low light conditions. In good lighting the pictures are decent. Since it’s already 2011 I was hoping for at least 8MP and lens for low-light. Here are three shots that I took:
The camera can also record 720p video. As you can see in works well in well-lit conditions and the quality takes a steep dive when in low-light.
Sadly this is where the BlackBerry Bold 9900 falls short. Compared to the Apple App Store and Android Market you only have limited choices when it comes to the apps that you’ll be able to download. If one of your priorities in getting a smartphone is gaming then you will have to pass on the BlackBerry line-up.
Update: Coming Soon BlackBerry Tag
RIM just sent out a press release announcing a NFC (Near Field Communications) feature for BlackBerry OS7 called BlackBerry Tag. This new feature allows you to just “bump” each other’s NFC-enabled phones to exchange contact information like BBM Pin. No need anymore to look up the annoying BBM Pin number and exchange. All you have to do is bump your phones. Cool! This will work only on BB phones though with NFC like the BlackBerry Bold 9900.
So is the BlackBerry Bold 9900 any good? YES. Like what I said earlier RIM made the best BlackBerry smartphone with the Bold 9900 because of the upgraded specs, Liquid Graphics Technology, better browsing, superb keypad, and the touchscreen experience. Add all of that to your existing BlackBerry features and you have the traditional BlackBerry experience amplified! The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is phenomenal as a work/professional phone. As a gaming and entertainment device? Not so much.
The BlackBerry Bold 9900 retails for Php31,690. It’s currently being offered already by GLOBE Telecom in various postpaid packages.